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TiO2 Secrets Stolen, Sent to China, DuPont Says

Thursday, April 7, 2011

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DuPont Co. has filed suit against two California firms and two individuals, alleging the sale of company information involving a specialty paint line to Chinese competitors.

 DuPont Titanium Technologies produces titanium dioxide for Special Purpose Coatings, including marine coatings.

The manufacturing process at the company’s titanium pigment plant in Kuan Yin, Taiwan, “has become the target of misappropriation,” says the complaint, filed Wednesday (April 6) in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California.

The information, regarding confidential specifications for the process, was found on a company computer of one of the defendants, the suit says. DuPont says it does not know how the information was allegedly stolen.

DuPont Titanium Technologies is the world's largest manufacturer of titanium dioxide, a white pigment commonly used in coatings, plastics and paper.

Chinese Competitors Cited

Named as defendants are USA Performance Technology and Performance Group Inc., which share offices in the Oakland, CA, area.

The complaint alleges that the companies and employees Walter Liew and John Liu are "in the process of providing or have provided" specific details on its titanium dioxide production process to DuPont's competitors in China.

"We are taking action to ensure that our trade secrets remain protected,” Thomas Sager, DuPont’s general counsel, said in a statement.

“DuPont is working closely with law enforcement authorities with information regarding this matter.  We will pursue all appropriate remedies available to address the misappropriation and those responsible."

Injunction Sought

The suit seeks an injunction requiring the return of its trade secret information and prohibiting use of its proprietary information, DuPont said in the statement. The suit also seeks unspecified monetary damages and fees and costs.

USA Performance Technology describes itself on its website as “a U.S. corporation located in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. The company specializes in the business of High Technology and Fine Chemicals. PTI offers its industrial experiences and engineering services to clients in the global market.”

The companies’ phone number was answered by an automated voicemail Thursday, and emails to the address on the company’s site were rejected as having an illegal host/domain name.

DuPont, based in Wilmington, DE, does not break out sales figures for individual products, but the unit that contains Ti02 reported revenue of $6.32 billion in 2010, Reuters reported. DuPont shares fell 4 cents to $56.02 on Wednesday.


Tagged categories: Criminal acts; DuPont; Formulating; Laws and litigation; Protective coatings; Titanium dioxide

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